King's School explorers travelled to the breathtaking Indonesian islands of Java and Bali to help care for some of the planet's most endangered animals. A group of intrepid Sixth Form students and King's English teacher, Olivia Soutter, took on the World Challenge expedition, combining eco warrior volunteering with tough trekking and sea bed exploration.
The students had to organise much of their own itinerary, live to a strict budget and assist the international and local ecologists, learning at first-hand about the pressing need to preserve rare flora and fauna and larger native species. At the top of their agenda was their volunteer work in the Java's Yogyakarta Wildlife Rescue Centre, where they helped care for rescued animals that had been trafficked for their rarity and commercial value including orangutans, sun bears, bear cats and crocodiles.
It was also a physical challenge, with a week's trekking taking pupils to the summit of three volcanoes in East Java, including a tough four-day trek to 12,000 ft summit of Mount Semeru, the island's highest mountain. They then watched the sunrise over Mount Bromo and hiked to the sulphuric crater lake of Mount Ijen.
At the heart of the expedition was a study of Indoneisan culture, custom and religious beliefs with visits to historical sites such as Borobudur, a ninth century Buddhist temple in Java and watching Balinese dancing in Ubud. For the sheer thrill of idyllic island life, they enjoyed snorkeling on a coral reef and watching dolphins at sunrise in West Bali.
Miss Soutter said: "All of the students will have lasting memories of Indonesia, from the overwhelmingly friendly Indonesian people to the breathtaking landscapes. However, they have also become more aware of some of the issues that we don't really see in the UK, such as poor sanitation, vast amounts of litter and unrecycled waste, and deforestation."
"Volunteering with the Wildlife Rescue Centre was an incredible experience but also an eye-opening one, as many of the species we worked with are endangered and have been rescued from dire circumstances. Our students had the privilege of speaking to leading ecologists about preserving wildlife and habitats and now are passionate about fundraising and building awareness of these issues back in the UK. I think these students will go on to university with a drive to learn how they can contribute to the preservation of our planet as adults."
King's is planning their next World Challenge trip to Tanzania in 2021.